It is simple. The more that students write for themselves, the better writers they become. But how do I get students to write for themselves. Isn't all writing that I ask students to do inherently something that they want no part of? Isn't school-sponsored writing always inauthentic?

No. If my students have infinite choice of topic, if they write for a real audience of their peers, if they can do it anytime they want, if they feel fully supported be people who are genuinely interested in what they have to say, if all of these things are true then student writing becomes something that students want to be a part of. It becomes authentic.

Enter "The Weekly Authentic." The Weekly Authentic is a writing piece of indeterminate length (at least one lengthy paragraph) on any topic that means something to the student writing it. These writing pieces are all posted on individual blogs either during our Weekly Tech Day or at home. These pieces must be ones that the writer doesn't mind receiving comments on because other classmates will be reading and responding to them. This weekly authentic writing piece will be completed every week that we have school for at least 2 days of the week. In order to make sure that all students write on a topic that interests them, I have collected a bunch of resources that provide nothing but interesting idea starters.

There are only two strict requirements I have for The Weekly Authentic:

  1. Each student must write something they actually want to write. There is no excuse for being bored by your own writing. So, go and write something that you are interested in. Be creative, be realistic, be hopeless, be mindful, be overjoyed, be open, be wrong, be anything you want to be in your writing.

  2. Each student must post their Weekly Authentic to our community delicious account. This way, the community of writers take control of how their words are presented. You are the ones categorizing and revealing insights about your writing. You are the ones that dictate how your writing will be seen by the world.

Before you start posting to your LearnerBlog, please check read the Discovery Blogging Rules that all Weekly Authentic bloggers must follow.

Jump to any area on this page from here:

The Weekly Authentic Blogs
The Authenticity Awards and Official Weekly Authentic Posts
Authentic Assessments
Mr. Wilkoff's Writing Ideas
Writing Ideas from other Web Resources
Student Generated Writing Ideas

Access the Weekly Authentic Blogs:

The Authenticity Awards:

  • The Authenticity Awards - This is where Weekly Authentic writers are rewarded for fantastic posts. Each week there are five or so posts that are honored for being truly authentic and thought provoking. Explore them and perhaps even respond to them in your own blogs.
    • Nominate A Post for the Authenticity Awards - Just fill out this form and you will have nominated someone to get the most prestigious award in all of authentic writing. You may only nominate once a week. You may nominate yourself.

Authentic Assessment for the Weekly Authentic Writing Ideas:

My Authentic Writing Ideas (These are more than just prompts. They are writing ideas that usually have a lot of relevance to middle school life. They also come with examples of the type of writing that the idea generally calls for, but you always have the ability to change these ideas to fit your own writing needs):

  • Brutal Honesty - You get to be brutally honest to anyone you like.
  • Fully Flippant - You can be pretty inappropriate with this one. If you don't know what the word flippant means, may help.
  • Half-Ideas - Here are a bunch of half-baked ideas that may start you on the path of great writing, or they could be total dead end. You'll have to take a look to find out.
  • Splayed on a Table - You get to be as open and honest as you can be in writing.
  • Stand in the Place Where You Live - You get to talk about the coolest/weirdest parts of the places you inhabit. Enjoy.
  • Writing Braille - You will write so that your words literally lift off of the screen. (Well, I guess not literally.)
  • Writing Crutches - We all have writing crutches. This exercise helps you to identify and get rid of some of them.
  • Character Driven Writing - There are a bunch of ideas here that you can use to come up with great characters.
  • Dialogue: Hidden Persuasion - Here you can explore all of the different ways that dialogue can be more than just words.
  • Idea Writing - This is a collection of different ways to start your great ideas.
  • Location, Location, Location - Sometimes the setting is the most important part of a story. This lets you explore that idea.
  • The Worst Possible Thing - Here you get to write out the worst thing that could happen given a certain situation.
  • Driving yourself to distraction - Distracted writing can be quite fun sometimes.
  • The Point of Performance - Sharing your writing is so integral to becoming a better writer. This may help you to get to the point where you can share out loud the things that you usually only write in your blog.
  • Recue an Idea - Here you will be looking back at one of your other writing pieces and seeing if there is an idea worth salvaging.
  • I've got Rhythm - See how well you can match words to rhythms. Great for starting yourself on a rhythmic poem.
  • Road Objects - Tell stories for the object that can't tell stories for themselves.
  • The Toughest Thing to Talk About - Everyone has something that is hard for them to reveal. This is about showing our hidden stories.
  • Use it Wisely - Use random objects for random purposes. This is about making use of interesting details.
  • Chain Reaction - It can be really nice to think about what happens next.

Other People's Authentic Writing Ideas:

  • There are some pretty crazy writing ideas at "Creative Writing" All you have to do is put your cursor on top of a number and the writing prompt should appear in a little box. This is a great site if you want to see a bunch of writing prompts at once.
  • These writing ideas are a little bit more official sounding. If you would like to practice writing to a prompt that is worded like a CSAP question but more interesting, then I would suggest "Writing Ideas 1."
  • I really like asking big questions, and the students over at Ms. Di Chiara's classroom have asked a bunch of them. Take a look at what other gifted students are thinking about and then start writing about the questions that they have raised.
  • If you are struggling with essay writing or you are simply looking for more help with writing for six different traits, go to "6 1 Trait Writing." They have separated the prompts by category (narrative, persuasive, etc.). Some of them are really interesting, questions that you can really sink your writing teeth into.
  • Tired of actually having to pick the topic for your Weekly Authentic? Let a writing idea generator select a good topic for you. All you have to do is press the button and one will magically appear over at WritingFix. (They also have some other idea generators that will be online shortly. Check back to see what new writing ideas they have.)
  • The Writer's Digest has been around a long time, and for almost as long they have been providing real writers like you with new writing ideas. Each day there is a new one, and there is also an extensive archive of old ideas. There will definitely be something that you can grab ahold of here.
  • Toasted Cheese has a different take on the daily writing idea. They provide you with a phrase that is quite vivid and should get you going on creating a story or memoir piece. And how could you not love a place called Toasted Cheese.
  • There is another resource over at Toasted Cheese that is worth mentioning. It is called "A Pen in Each Hand." These exercises are for pretty serious writers. If you would like to challenge yourself with something that would give your Weekly Authentics a thematic weight, go check these out. You can also access the Daily Writing Ideas Archives from this link.
  • Lots of What-If's, Why's and How's. Not all of these I would consider authentic, but quite a few of them are more than thought provoking.

Discovery Student Generated Authentic Writing Ideas: